British Soldier is an Archambault 40 bought by the Army Sailing Association in 2008. She is sailed by a squad comprising around 100 serving soldiers on return from operational tours, offering them a chance to race offshore when on leave or between jobs. A number of injured soldiers also sail British Soldier as part of their rehabilitation. Apart from the skipper and two core ‘regulars’, there will be a different crew for each race in the Atlantic Ocean series. The yacht is not publicly funded; it is supported by a combination of generous sponsors (currently Fujitsu), soldiers’ own contributions through the Army Sports Lottery and some charitable trusts. www.sailarmy.co.uk
The Army took delivery of BRITISH SOLDIER, an Archambault A40RC for the start of the 2008 Spring Season.
With the A40RC the Army Offshore Racing Team will continue to compete at the highest level of racing. As a prototype, the A40RC has already achieved significant success in French waters.
In 2008 BRITISH SOLDIER had a tremendous first season and was selected to represent GBR in the Commodore's Cup. On the offshore circuit, she achieved 2nd overall in The RORC series, 3rd in IRC 1 and winners of the Alan Paul Trophy and the Haylock Cup. In 2010 she completed a punishing season including racing round Ireland and the Round Britain and Ireland Race to again finish 2nd overall in RORC, out of some 280 yachts. The team also won the Haylock Trophy for Best Service Yacht, the Alan Paul Trophy for consistent high performance and the Serendip Trophy for best production yacht.
In 2010 the Army Offshore Team were announced as Army Sports Team of the Year. British Soldier was one of the first Archambault A40RC's to be seen on the British Racing Circuit. She is 11.95m overall in length, of resin injected fibreglass construction, with a draft of 2.47m. Fitted with twin wheels, she combines a thirst for upwind sailing with an equally impressive performance downwind.
Fitted with a Formula height modulus mast and carbon fibre boom and spinnaker pole, she is complimented with a new and impressive sail wardrobe provided by Quantum Sails. She has the ability for both symmetric and asymmetric spinnaker configuration.
About the crew:
1. Lt Col Nick Bate (skipper). 47. Trained as a tank commander in a cavalry regiment, Nick has completed operational tours in Iraq (twice), Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo. He has also served on the staff of Commander US Central Command in Tampa, Florida. He starting racing on an IOR ¾ tonner in the early 1980s. After joining the Army in 1987 he competed in the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race on British Defender and has sailed 8 Fastnet races. He has raced a wide variety of yachts from his own International Dragons and Cornish Shrimper up to 153-foot classic yachts. He is currently serving on the RORC main committee and is Vice Commodore of the Royal Armoured Corps YC. This will be his 4th Atlantic crossing.
2. Capt David Holdsworth. A cardiologist based in Oxford, David has completed about 20,000 miles, a mixture of cruising and offshore racing. He has been racing in the RORC series for the last 4 years, with 2 Fastnet Races under his belt. Areas of expertise are pit and sail trim.
3. 2Lt Martin Livingston. Martin is a former Royal Navy officer of 7 years who qualified as a doctor in March 2011. He has completed around 4500 miles of cruising and racing. Having skippered in two Sunsail fleet regattas his ocean racing experience is limited but he is keen to learn on this TransAt, assuming he returns from work in Africa in time!
4. LCpl Terence (Polly) Parsons, 41, joined the Royal Engineers in May 1990 as a Combat Engineer. It was thanks to an injury incurred on an operational tour in Bosnia that he found sailing as a form of rehabilitation. He has since sailed around 5000 miles with the Royal Engineer Yacht Club, mostly offshore racing, including the Services Transglobe sail training expedition from Perth to Sydney. This will be Polly’s first TransAtlantic race.
5. Capt Oli Donaghy. 31. Oli has completed about 4000 miles of racing, including 3 Fastnet campaigns and the Scottish Islands Peaks Race. He returns from Afghanistan just in time to start the Trans Atlantic Race.
6. 2nd Lt Phil Caswell, 24. Commissioned in 2010 into the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Phil has sailed around 18,000 miles - a mixture of racing, cruising and military and youth sail training. He started racing whilst studying at the University of Southampton in 2004 and campaigned a university team in the 2007 Fastnet Race. He has offshore experience to the Azores, Arabian Sea, English Channel and North Sea and this will be his first Atlantic crossing.
7. Capt David Holdsworth. Originally an Army engineer, David completed his medical training and transferred to the Army Medical Corps. Currently a cardiologist based in Oxford, he completed a tour in Afghanistan in 2010. David has sailed about 20,000 miles cruising and the last 4 seasons offshore racing with RORC including 2 Fastnet Races. Areas of expertise are pit and sail trim.
8. Capt Oli Donaghy, 31. Oli commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 2004 and has around 7000 miles experience, mostly racing, including 3 Fastnet campaigns and the Scottish Islands Peaks Race - a combined sailing and hill-running race on the West Coast of Scotland. He has just returned from Afghanistan, working for 16 Air Assault Brigade in Helmand Province. He is thoroughly looking forward to the challenge of the race.
9. Clarke Smal. Clarke joined the Royal Artillery after basic training in April 2011, having been on a 3-month tour of Europe and decided after 2 weeks in the UK to join the Army. He started sailing at age 16 in his native South Africa, soon qualifying as day then coastal skipper and started racing offshore. He completed the Cape Town to Rio race and at age 18 delivered a yacht from Cape Town to the Caribbean, double handed. From there he jumped on any yachts that needed crew or were sailing to any interesting places in the world. He completed the Sydney to Hobart race and a passage through the Straits of Magellan. After a circumnavigation and racing in the Caribbean for 2 years hereturned to South Africa and took up a place studying for a BSc in IT and programming at the University of Pretoria. His final year included awork placement where he received the gift of the 3-month tour of Europe.
10. Richard Hall. Richard joined the Army at age 16 and attended Welbeck College, a sixth form college, where I gained sponsorship to study at Southampton University for 4 years. His first sailing experience was on a Services Nicholson 55 across the Bay of Biscay with the Tall Ships Race in 2002. Then at Southampton University he raced on a number of yachts in Scotland, the Solent and the English Channel. He joined British Soldier's first year of racing in 2008, completing the RORC Cowes -Madeira – Cowes races. He was commissioned into 21 Engineer Regiment and deployed to Afghanistan in March 2010, commanding a Troop of Engineers in Sangin, Helmand. He is now posted to Army Training Regiment Bassingbourn (the base of the 91st US Bomb Group in WW2 and the Memphis Belle) to train new recruits and will shortly return to an Engineer Regiment for another Afghanistan tour.
11. Lt Col N Bate